On Tuesday, Lionel Messi continued to make an immediate effect in the United States by scoring twice in Inter Miami’s 4-0 victory against Atlanta United. With the win, Lionel Messi’s club advanced to the knockout stages of the Leagues Cup.
After coming off the bench and scoring the game-winning goal in the 94th minute of Friday’s match against Mexican side Cruz Azul, the Argentine World Cup champion was given the opportunity to start for his new club for the first time.
Messi was just too much for Atlanta to handle in his first match against a Major League Soccer team, and he developed a productive relationship with Finnish winger Robert Taylor, who helped himself to Miami’s other two goals. Messi also scored one of Miami’s goals in the match.
The Leagues Cup is a competition that features all of the best clubs from Major League Soccer (MLS) and Liga MX (Mexico’s top league), and after two victories, Miami is in first place in their group. Additionally, their newest player seems to have adjusted to the squad very fast, which gives them reason to hope they may win their first trophy ever.
Messi didn’t waste any time going on the scoreboard, putting the home team ahead in the eighth minute when he was set free by a pass over the top from his old Barcelona teammate Sergio Busquets. Busquets was Messi’s teammate when they both played for Barcelona.
Messi raced into the penalty area, and despite the fact that his low effort hit the post, he capitalized on the rebound by side-footing the ball into the back of the net.
The seven-time winner of the Ballon d’Or then increased the lead in the 22nd minute with the first of three goals that saw him connect with the Finnish winger Robert Taylor. Taylor was instrumental in all three of these goals.
After running towards the retreating Atlanta defense, Messi passed the ball to Taylor, who slipped it back into the path of the 36-year-old, who finished the play without committing a single error.
Because Atlanta played a high line, they requested Argentine midfielder Santiago Sosa to man-mark another Argentine player, which was a difficult job given the circumstances.
Messi was able to receive another pass over the top from Busquets, but the off-side flag was raised when he fired directly at the goalie of the Atlanta team, Brad Guzan.
One minute before halftime, Messi sent the ball to Benjamin Cremaschi, who deftly flicked the ball to Taylor. Taylor resisted the tight angle and unleashed a powerful shot, bringing the score to 3-0 in favor of Miami.
Eight minutes after the halftime break, Atlanta were caught on the break after a corner was cleared to Messi. Messi sprinted from deep inside his own half before releasing Taylor to his left, who slammed in a low effort off the inside of Busquets the far post. This goal took Atlanta off guard.
Busquets and Messi were able to get some rest thanks to the comfortable margin of victory that Miami’s Argentine head coach Gerardo Martino had. Messi was replaced in the 78th minute.
Thiago Almada, who plays for Argentina with Messi, had an opportunity to score a consolation goal for Atlanta, but Miami goalkeeper Drew Callender made a great save on the penalty kick he took.
As he exited the field, Taylor, who made excellent use of the space that Messi had provided for him, rightly earned his own standing ovation for his performance.
“Every time Leo has the ball, we have a few players running in behind him, and that creates loads of space for everyone else,” added Taylor. “Every time Leo has the ball, we have a few players running in behind him.”
“He is capable of doing anything with the ball. He is able to maintain his composure in confined areas, and he always ends up choosing the best course of action.
“In the vast majority of cases, he’ll locate one of his teammates. He contributes an incredible amount of quality to the squad. To put it another way, he is the very finest player in the whole globe. This is the pattern that he follows: he scores two goals, just as he did in the game before, and he also receives an assist. “To be able to play with him is like a dream come true,” he remarked.